Hurricanes: 2022 still active in the Atlantic

by REGIS CREPET, meteorologist

Hurricane season is approaching in the North Atlantic, with its official beginning set for June 1. One month before this deadline, it is already possible to predict the hurricane season, which again promises to be very severe, but lower than it has been in the past two years.

The 2022 North Atlantic hurricane season promises to be more active than average, without reaching the proportions of last year, which ranked third in the number of hurricane phenomena, after 2005 and 2020, and tied with 1933. Fortunately, most of these phenomena did so . It doesn’t make landfall, neither in the Caribbean nor in the United States, but we still rememberHurricane Ida that struck the southern United States in the same place as Katrina.

Towards a more active than average season

Hurricane season is characterized by the number of so-called phenomena (ie from the tropical storm phase) as well as by the intensity of these phenomena. Thus, even in a less active year, all it takes is a large hurricane to pass over a populated area for the losses to be heavy. Conversely, a large number of phenomena at sea will not have the same effect as during the past two years.

Thus, a hurricane forecast is indicative but does not necessarily pose a certain risk to a particular coastal area.

In this context, the various organizations that specialize in developing hurricane forecasts are quite formal in declaring an active season, with more than average phenomena, but without reaching the proportions of the last two years. But remember, it only takes one major hurricane over a coastal area or inhabited island to cause a disaster.

L ‘University of Colorado She was the first to publish her estimates. Their calculations led to the formation of 19 named phenomena in the North Atlantic, with an average of 14, of which 9 would be hurricanes with an average of 7 per season.

These forecasts join those developed by the US Meteorological Organization in March Accueatherwhich depicts a range of 16 to 20 tornado phenomena including 3 to 5 major hurricanes, i.e. reaching strength at least 3 of the 5 levels they represent Sapphire Simpson scale.

The Tropical Storm Hazardsthe official organization for hurricane forecasting, offers the same range, with 18 phenomena identified in the forecast, including 8 hurricanes (including 4 major hurricanes).

Reading these forecasts, we can see that next season will be similar to last year in terms of intensity, with roughly the same number of hurricanes and major hurricanes. But it will be less active with fewer small events (tropical storms).

What are the elements that make it possible to set these expectations?

These projections appear consistent with the global climate context. The parameters that make it possible to work on this direction are basically continuation of nina In the Pacific Ocean, where its colder than usual waters lead to increased winds over this ocean region. Due to the influence of conductive ships, high winds are less powerful over the tropical Atlantic, which is a factor that leads to the development of hurricanes. Conversely, an El Niño phase in the Pacific (in other words, warmer than normal waters) would be unfavorable for hurricane formation in the Atlantic, by strengthening high-altitude winds, slowing the development of hurricanes.

Another factor conducive to an active hurricane season: tropical atlantic ocean temperature, Especially between West Africa and the Caribbean. Since March, these temperatures have been 1° to 2°C above normal, providing additional fuel for the formation of equatorial waves, the first of which are already beginning to form.

Finally, the last important parameter considered in the modeling: moisture forecasts and Precipitation over tropical Africa. In fact, thunderstorms are forming over this part of the globe, which are carried by strong easterly winds, and will then head to the Atlantic Ocean, which can serve as a nucleus for the formation of hurricanes in the ocean. So far, models envision a very rainy tropical season, this summer, over equatorial Africa, which will be an additional component of the increased number of cyclones.

Finally, It should be noted that this hurricane season in 2022 promises to be slightly higher than normal in the North Atlantic, but less active than in the past two years with fewer small events (tropical storms). On the other hand, there will not be much difference with respect to hurricanes and large tornadoes. Whatever it is, remember that it only takes one hurricane to hit an island or inhabited land and cause a disaster.

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